I really like the way Aperture deals with cropping and resizing on export. For some reason it makes perfect sense to me. However, many people I talk to just can’t get their heads around it.
Let’s say for instance that you want to take one of your full resolution images, crop it, and make it 500 pixels wide for use on the web. In Photoshop, it’s a pretty straight forward process. You simply use the crop tool to make your desired crop, and then change the image width to 500 pixels in the Image Size dialog box. If you have clicked Constrain Proportions, all you have to do is click OK. Of course, you will have to be sure to save that image as a new file in order to preserve the original full resolution file.
In Aperture things are slightly different. Because Aperture is a non-destructive image editing application, you can make as many crops as you like without affecting the image itself. If you crop an image, you can easily bring it back to the original crop, simply by deselecting the checkbox next to “Crop” in the Adjustments Inspector or HUD. You can create an individual crop for as many versions of an image master that you would like, and any of these crops can be removed or changed at any time.
But the confusion seems to be in the way that Aperture deals with resizing. The truth is, unlike Photoshop, where you create the final image size within the program itself, Aperture doesn’t do any image resizing until you export a Version. So, I often find novice Aperture users struggling with the crop tool, thinking that this is where the pixel dimensions should be placed.
When you open the crop tool you have the option of either making a freeform crop, or entering some numbers with which to constrain the crop tool. These numbers can be selected from the drop down box of Common Sizes, or you can enter them yourself.
What I find many people misunderstand is that the numbers in the crop tool relate to an aspect ratio and not actual pixel dimensions. This can be a little confusing for some people, especially those who are used to Photoshop, and those who are somewhat new to photography.
So, here is a quick tip that might help make things a little easier. First, set up a new Export Preset in Aperture. To do this, simply click the Aperture menu in the top menu bar and select Presets and then Image Export. A dialog box will appear and on the left hand side you will see a list of presets. Pick one that is fairly generic, such as “JPEG Fit Within 640×640.” This is one of the presets that comes packaged with Aperture, so unless you have for some reason deleted all of these, this one should be there waiting for you.
Make a copy of this preset by selecting the present and then clicking the “+” button on the bottom left. Once you have created this new duplicate copy of the original preset, rename it to something along the lines of “JPEG Custom.” Next, drag the preset up to the top of the list and click OK.
Once you have created this custom preset, a really quick and dirty workflow can go something like this:
- Crop you image in Aperture using the crop tool so that is simply looks the way you want and contains the portion of the image you care about.
- Right click the image and select Export->Version.
- Select the drop down box labeled Export Preset. You will see your “JPEG Custom” preset at the top.
- You can either use the current settings (fit within 640×640 from the preset you copied) or scroll to the bottom to where it says “Edit”, and quickly make a change to the export dimensions.
Don’t think of this preset as a preset. Just think of it as a way to set up custom dimensions on the fly, right before you export your images. You can put in any dimensions you want, and change them at any time. Whatever setting you select will remain present until the next time you change them. So, if you find yourself using the same numbers over and over again, then it’s time to set up a permanent preset for those numbers.